Giving Feedback Effectively

I often have difficulty giving my team-members any feedback – whether it is positive or negative. How can I do it right?

Leaders are advocates of people, who should encourage and support their growth. In order to develop their people, they must praise when due but also deal with poor performance in a straightforward manner.

Unfortunately, many leaders don’t know how to do it; this ends up de-motivating people. Here’s how you can do it right.

Negative Feedback
As a leader, your challenge is to make the negative feedback sound uplifting and constructive.

  1. Start with the positive. Acknowledge the good work that he/she normally does. If the positive is registered first, the negative is more likely to be listened to.‘Julie, I have always noticed how well you handle customer complaints.’
  2. Tell him/her specifically what he/she did wrong. Focus on the action, not the person.‘While you were handling Mrs. ABC’s complaint this morning, your tone was slightly rude.’
  3. Explain the impact of their actions‘If we speak rudely to our customers, they will not shop with us, and our business will drop.’
  4. Pause to hear their side of the story.
  5. Inform them how they can correct their mistake.‘In future, I want you to remain polite and professional no matter what the problem is.’
  6. Reaffirm them that they are an asset to your organization‘You are an asset to our organization, and other employees are looking at you as an example.’
  7. Reassure them that you believe he/she will do better next time.
    ‘I am confident that with your experience, you will be able to control your emotions and give our customers the excellent service they deserve.’
    Always remember the following tips:a) Keep it private – do not do it in front of another person;b) Do it timely – don’t wait till their annual performance review, by then it might be too late.

Positive Feedback
On the other hand, if they do something right, don’t let it disappear in thin air.People generally crave acceptance and reassurance. When we do something right, and receive positive feedback, we feel motivated to perform better in the future.

  1. Tell him/her specifically what he/she did correctly.‘Julie, I noticed how you quickly were able to think of a solution to the problem with our incoming faxes.’
  2. Explain the impact of their actions.‘With such prompt action, our customers will enjoy greater satisfaction and shop with us more often.’
  3. Pause for awhile to let them digest what you have said.
  4. Reaffirm them that they are an asset to your organization.‘You are an asset to our organization, and other employees are beginning to look at you as an example.’
  5. Inform them how he/she should do more of it.‘Keep up the good work, and continue to look for new, creative ways to handle challenges, and give our customers excellent service!’

Getting Maximum Results
As leaders, it is important to remain fair and objective with our feedback. If you’re going to give negative feedback, you must also give equal or more of the positive feedback to your team-members.

This way, your team-members will not be afraid to take risks, and the entire organization will achieve greater heights together.
Good luck!

~This article was posted at The Jakarta Post Newspaper on 17 December 2008. Written by Gulshan Harjani

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